Death toll in Mexican pipeline fire rises to 109

The number of victims, however is expected to rise further

Mexican Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer

The death toll in a massive fire at an illegally tapped pipeline in Mexico has risen to 109 after 10 more injured people died at hospitals this week. According to Mexico's Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer the latest victims were severely burned and died between Wednesday and early Friday, despite all the medical efforts. Other 40 injured victims are still treated in hospitals with a very little chance to survive, too.

The victims were gathering gasoline from an illegal pipeline tap in the central state of Hidalgo last Friday when the gas ignited, littering an alfalfa field with charred bodies. Almost half of those who initially survived have since died of their injuries.

Experts have long said that workers and union officials of the state-owned oil company, Pemex, have been involved in the massive fuel thefts, which cost Mexico an estimated $3bn in 2017 alone. The union, run autocratically by Carlos Romero Deschamps, has been furthermore marked by corruption scandals for decades. As a result, on Friday, a dissident union movement, calling itself Petromex, announced a legal challenge to unseat Romero Deschamps and form a new union.

"Romero Deschamps is the country's No. 1 thief; that's how the Mexican public sees him," Petromex spokesman Oscar Solorzano said.

In addition, about 100 Pemex workers gathered in front of the Labor Department offices in downtown Mexico City to demand the new union be registered, a first step that could lead to a vote between competing unions to see who gets to represent the company's 114,000 workers. Later on, Petromex activists said about 120 workers signed the petition for their union to be recognised, but they claimed to have support or expressions of interest from about 25,000 workers.

Similar articles